Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: THE TIME FETCH by Amy Herrick

Edward picks up what he thinks is a rock. He doesn’t know it is a sleeping Time Fetch—and touching it will release its foragers too soon and alter the entire fabric of time and space. Soon the bell rings to end class just as it has begun. Buses race down streets, too far behind schedule to stop for passengers. Buildings and sidewalks begin to disappear as the whole fabric of the universe starts to unravel.

To try to stop the foragers, Edward must depend on the help of his classmates Feenix, Danton, and Brigit—whether he likes it or not. They all have touched the Fetch, and it has drawn them together in a strange and thrilling adventure. The boundaries between worlds and dimensions are blurred, and places and creatures on the other side are much like the ones they’ve always known—but slightly twisted, a little darker, and much more dangerous.
I almost put this book back. Looking back, I can hardly believe my own potential stupidity, but it's true. My Aussie roommate Hannah picked up The Time Fetch at BEA and offered it to me. I accepted, as it had been on my galleys-to-find list, but I had so many galleys already. If I was going to cull my stack, best to put back an MG right? I am primarily a YA blogger, after all. And I wasn't so sure I liked it.

But then I started reading. And reading. And reading. I couldn't stop. Some people say "Talk dirty to me" yeah? Not my thing. Amy Herrick did better. She talked nerdy to me.

I knew I was in trouble by page 2. That's the page where Ms. Herrick described the Fetch as having insides that
...shone out a bloody gold, the color of your hand when you shone your flashlight against it in a dark room.
It was such a perfect description, as it was universal (and therefore immediately relatable), utterly beautiful, and very pertinent. The Fetch is alive and holds many living things, so why shouldn't it shine like the insides of a living thing - namely, you?

Really, though, I wasn't a total goner until I met Edward. Edward is amazing. Despite being a very typical eighth-grade boy in some regards, Edward is brilliantly unique in his worldview. As what can only be described as a metaphysical nihilist with a strong interest in quantum physics, Edward views the whole of reality as a complete crock. Time isn't tangible, but rather a manmade construct. The smell of his aunt's baking? Merely odor molecules pinging around in his nose. Even people are merely a mass of positive and negative electrical charges. He gives an entire mini-treatise on page 17 about how the chair you're sitting in is not actually solid but rather 99% empty space and how you're, in fact, hovering above the chair rather than sitting on it.

Total. Goner.

As a metaphysical nihilist, Edward is very laidback. His personal goal in life is to disappear. He moves slowly and says as little as possible to avoid being noticed or disturbed. In direct contrast is Feenix, a neighbor girl and fellow schoolmate who wants everyone to WAKE UP! Feenix is a bully, though she would never call herself that. She pulls pranks on everyone and makes Edward's life in particular a nightmare. Of course, she mainly pulls her pranks because she can get away with them, though I have no doubt she would continue to pull them no matter what the consequences, because at least then something new would happen.

Edward is the one who starts the trouble with time when he disturbs a dormant Fetch, making it irresistible to all around him. But Feenix is the one who really gets the ball rolling when she steals the Fetch (what she and everyone else thinks of as merely a rock) at school and then herself is stolen by a trio of dubious old women.

Pulled into the trouble with them are Danton and Brigit, both of whom I adore just as much as I do Edward and Feenix. From the synopsis on the back of my ARC, I had expected very stereotypical characters, but, as with Edward and Feenix, I was surprised and delighted. Danton is a chill, people-loving jock. He's naturally gifted at making everyone around him feel at ease and quickly befriends Edward despite the latter's misgivings. Brigit, on the other hand, is known for precisely two things: 1) She's the new girl who hasn't spoken a word since she moved to town, and 2) when embarrassed, she turns even brighter red than her hair, turning her, effectively, into a human beacon. Though sometimes at odds, these four kids form a cohesive fighting unit and mesh in ways that I didn't initially suspect.

I don't want to get into the whole plot, but just know that it's a strange and wonderful mix of nihilism, old world pagan beliefs, quantum physics, and a delightfully odd yet at the same time familiar look at the rush of the winter season. I mean, really, in what book - what MIDDLE GRADE book - can you expect to find the Russian witch Baba Yaga, Celtic folklore, a discussion of the fabric of the space-time continuum, and the breeding habits of fruit flies all in one place?

The only thing I couldn't really pin down is where to shelve this book. It straddles that nebulous gap where MG and YA overlap and muddy like colliding currents. The Time Fetch is marketed as MG. It has an MG cover. For the most part, it deals with MG problems. Its protagonists are in eighth grade, which is technically MG territory. On the other hand, the kids felt like YA teenagers to me. Feenix is 5' 11" and Danton is taller, which technically doesn't mean anything, but they don't feel MG in my head. Edward could easily read as a sloth-like tenth-grader instead of a sloth-like eighth-grader. And I spent the entire book matchmaking! I kid you not! I had these kids matched and married by the end of the book.

That said, the ambiguity regarding appropriate age category didn't diminish my reading at all. If anything, it fit the category-bucking attitude of the entire novel. I love books that don't meet my expectations because they're too busy blowing the sides right out of those silly, limiting expectation-boxes, and The Time Fetch did this again and again. I've completely exhausted myself in my euphoria, so I have nothing else to say except READ. THIS. BOOK.

Points Added For: Non-stereotypical characters, folklore, quantum physics, SCIENCE, hints at future romance, supportive families/adults

Points Subtracted For: Nothing

Good For Fans Off: Fun upper middle-grade fiction, SCIENCE, folklore/mythology

Notes For Parents: Some parents may not appreciate the various pagan winter solstice practices depicted in this book. Otherwise, it's squeaky clean.

Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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